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of the history of the nine years that preceded his death, for I cannot suppose that the evidence of Matthieu de Coucy will be disputed. He was born at Quesnoy, in Hainault, and living at Peronne while Monstrelet resided at Cambray. The proximity of the places must have enabled him to be fully informed of everything that concerned the historian and his work.
“If we take from Monstrelet what has been improperly attributed to him, it is but just to restore that which legally belongs to him. According to the register of the Cordeliers of Cambray, and the Mémoriaux of Jean le Robert, he had written the history of the war of the Ghent-men against the duke of Burgundy. Now the events of this war, which began in the month of April, 1452, and was not terminated before the end of July in the following year, are related with much minuteness in the third volume *. After the authorities above quoted, we cannot doubt that Monstrelet was the author, if not of the whole account, at least of the greater part of it: I say “part of it,' for he could not have narrated the end of this war, since peace between the Ghent-men and their prince was not concluded until the 31st July, and Monstrelet was buried on the 20th. It is not even probable that he would have had time to collect the events that happened at the beginning of the month, unless we suppose that he died suddenly; whence I think it may be conjectured that Monstrelet ceased to write towards the end of June, when the castle of Helsebecque was taken by the duke of Burgundy, and that the history of the war was written by another hand, who may have arranged the materials which Monstrelet had collected, but had not reduced to order.
“There seems here to arise a sort of contradiction between Matthieu de Coucy, who fixes, as I have said, the conclusion of Monstrelet's writing at the year 1444, and the register of the Cordeliers, which agrees with the Mémoriaux of Jean le Robert ; but this contradiction will vanish, if we reflect that the history of the revolt of Ghent, in 1453, is an insulated matter, having no connexion with the history of the reign of Charles VII., and that it cannot be considered as forming part of the two first volumes, from which it is detached by a space of eight years. Matthieu de Coucy, therefore, who may not perhaps have known of this historical fragment, was entitled to say that the chronicles written by Monstrelet ended at the year 1444.
“The continuator of these chronicles having reported the conclusion of the war between the Ghent-men and their prince, then copies indiscriminately from the Grandes Chroniques, or from Jean Chartier, with more or less exactness, as may readily be discovered on collating them, as I have done. He only adds some facts relative to the history of Burgundy, and carries the history to the death of Charles VII. This part, which is more interesting than the former, because the writer has added to the chronicles facts in which they were deficient, is more defective in the arrangement. Several events that relate to the general history of the realm are told twice over, and in succession ;—first in an abridged state, and then more minutely; and sometimes with differences so great, that it seems impossible that both should have been written by the same person t.
“ This defect, however, we cannot, without injustice, attribute to the continuator of Monstrelet; for it is clearly perceptible that he only treats of the general history of France in as far as it is connected with that of Burgundy, and we cannot suppose that he would
* From chapter ccxvii. to ccxxxvi. in the translation, Hungary, the duke of Burgundy's entry into Ghent,third volume, 4 to.
the proceedings against the duke of Alençon, the account + “ The capture of Sandwich by the French has been of what passed at the funeral of king Charles VII." twice told; and also the account of the embassy from
repeat twice events foreign to the principal object of his work. It is much more natural to believe that the abridged accounts are his, and that the first copiers, thinking they were too short, have added the whole detail of these articles from the Grandes Chroniques, or from Jean Chartier, whence he had been satisfied with merely making extracts.
- From the death of Charles VII., in 1461, to that of Philip duke of Burgundy, we meet with no more of these repetitions. The historian (for he then deserves the name) leaves off copying the Chronicles, and advances without a guide : consequently, he is very frequently bewildered. I shall not attempt to notice his faults, which are the same with those of Monstrelet, and I could but repeat what I have said before. There is, however, one which is peculiar to him, and which pervades the whole work : it is an outrageous partiality for the house of Burgundy.
“ We may excuse him for having written, under the title of a General History of France, the particular history of Burgundy, and for having only treated of that of France incidentally, in as far as it interested the Burgundian princes. We may, indeed, more readily pardon liim for having painted Charles VII. as a voluptuous monarch, and Louis XI. sometimes as a tyrant; at others, as a deep and ferocious politician, holding in contempt the most sacred engagements. But the fidelity of history required that he should not have been silent as to the vices of the duke of Burgundy and his son, who plunged France into an abyss of calamities, and that his predilection for these two princes should not burst forth in every page,
« The person who continued this first part of the Chronicles of Monstrelet has been hitherto unknown; but I believe a lucky accident has enabled me to discover him. Dom Berthod, a learned Benedictine monk of the congregation of St. Vanne, having employed himself for these many years in searching the libraries and ancient rolls in Flanders for facts relative to our history, has made a report, with extracts from numerous manuscripts, of which we had only vague ideas. He has had the goodness to communicate some of them to me, and among others the chronicle of Jacques du Clercq *, which begins at 1448, and ends, like the continuator of Monstrelet, at the death of the duke of Burgundy in 1467. In order to give a general idea of the contents of the work, D. Berthod has copied, with the utmost exactness, the table of chapters composed by Jacques du Clercq himself, as he tells us in his prologue. I have compared this table and the extracts with the continuation of Monstrelet, and have observed such a similarity, particularly from the year 1453 to 1467, that I think it impossible for any two writers to be so exactly the same unless one had copied after the other.
“As we do not possess the whole of this chronicle, I can but offer this as a very probable conjecture, which will be corroborated, when it is considered that Jacques du Clercq and the continuator of Monstrelet lived in the same country. The first resided in Arras; and by the minute details the second enters into concerning Flanders, we may judge that he was an inhabitant of that country. Some villages burned, or events still less interesting, and unknown beyond the places where they happened, are introduced into his history. In like manner, we should discover without difficulty (if it were otherwise unknown) that the editor of the Grandes Chroniques was a monk of the abbey of St. Denis, when he gravely relates, as an important event, that on such a day the scullion of the abbey was found dead in his bed, -and that a peasant of Clignancourt beat his wife until she died.
. * The copy of this chronicle, whence D. Berthod notice another copy in the abbey of St. Waast, at Arras, made his extract, is (or perhaps rather was) in the royal This must be the original ; for D. Berthod told me that library at Brussels. Père le Long and M. de Fontette the one at Brussels was a copy."
“ To these divers relations between the two writers, we must add the period when they wrote. We see by the preface of Jacques du Clercq, that he composed his history shortly after the death of Philip duke of Burgundy, in 1467; and the continuator of Monstrelet, when speaking of the arrest of the bastard du Rubempré in Holland, whither he had been sent by Louis XI., says, that the bastard was a prisoner at the time he was writing, at the end of February, 1468, before Easter; that is to say, that he was at work on his history in the month of February, 1469, according to our mode of beginning the year.
“Whether this continuation be an abridgment of the chronicle of Jacques du Clercq or an original chronicle, it seems very clear that Monstrelet has been tried by the merits of this third volume, and that his reputation of being a party-writer has been grounded on the false opinion that he was the author of it.
“ I cannot close this essay without expressing my surprise that no one, before the publication of the article respecting Monstrelet in the register of the Cordeliers, had suspected that part, at least, of this third volume, which has been attributed to him, could not have come from his hand. Any attentive reader must have been struck with the passage where the continuator relates the death of Charles, duke of Orleans, when, after recapitulating in a few words the misfortunes which the murder of his father had caused to France, he refers the reader for more ample details to the history of Monstrelet:' as may be seen,' says he, 'in the Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet.'
“I shall not notice the other continuations, which carry the history to the reign of Francis I. ; for this article has been discussed by M. de Foncemagne, in an essay read before the Academy in 1742 *; nor the different editions of Monstrelet. M. le Duchat, in his “Remarques sur divers Sujets de Littérature, and the editor of “ La nouvelle Bibliothéque des Historiens de France,' have left nothing more to be said on the subject.”
ON THE CHRONICLE OF ENGUERRAND DE MONSTRELET, BY M. NE FONCEMAGNE, MENTIONED
IN THE PRECEDING PAGE, TRANSLATED FROM THE SIXTEENTH VOLUME OF THE “MEMOIRES DE L'ACADEMIE DE BELLES-LETTRES,” &c.
The Chronicle of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, governor of Cambray, commences at the year 1-100, where that of Froissart ends, and terminates at 1467; but different editors have successively added several continuations, which bring it down to the year 1516.
The critics have before remarked, that the first of these additions was nothing more than a chronicle of Louis XI., known under the name of the “ Chronique Scandaleuse," and attributed to John de Troyes, registrar of the hôtel-de-ville of Paris. Those who have made this remark should have added, that the beginning of the two works is different, and that they only become uniform at the description of the great floods of the Seine and Marne, which happened in 1460, for the author takes up the history at that year. This event will be found at the ninth page of the Chronique Scandaleuse (in the second volume of the Brussels edition of Comines), and at the third leaf of the last volume of Monstrelet (second order of ciphers), edition of 1603.
The second continuation includes the whole of the reign of Charles VIII. It is written by Pierre Desrey, who styles himself in the title, “ simple orateur de Troyes en Champagne.” The greater part of this addition, more especially what respects the invasion of Italy, is again to be met with at the end of the translation of Gaguin's chronicle made by this same Desrey ; at the conclusion of “ La Chronique de Bretagne," by Alain Bouchard ; and in the history of Charles VIII., by M. Godefroi, page 190, where it is called “ a relation of the expedition of Charles VIII.”
M. de Foncemagne says nothing more of the other continuations, which he had not occasion to examine with the same care ; but he thinks they may have been taken from those which Desrey has added to his translation of Gaguin, as far as the year 1538. This notice may be useful to those who shall study the history of Louis X.I. and of Charles VIII., inasmuch as it will spare them the trouble and disgust of reading several times the same things, which they could have no reason to suspect had been copied from each other.
We should be under great obligations to the authors of rules for reading, if, in pointing out what on each subject ought to be read, they would at the same time inform us what ought not to be read. This information is particularly necessary in regard to old chronicles, or what are called in France Recueils de Pièces. The greater part of the chroniclers have copied each other, at least for the years that have preceded their own writings : in like manner, an infinite number of detached pieces have been published by different editors. Thus books multiply, volumes thicken, and the only result to men of letters is an increase of obstacles in their progress.
The learned Benedictine, who is labouring at the collection of French historians, has wisely avoided this inconvenience in regard to the chronicles *. A society of learned men announced in 1734 an alphabetical library, or a general index of ancient pieces scattered in those compilations known under the names of Spicilegia, Analectæ, Anecdote, by which would be seen at a glance in how many places the same piece could be found. This project, on its appearance, gave rise to a literary warfare, the only fruit of which was to cool the zeal of the illustrious authors who had conceived it, and to prevent the execution of a work which would have been of infinite utility to the republic of letters t.
* See his preface at the head of the first volume, p. 7.
7 Epistola plurium doctorum de societate Sorbonicâ ad illustrissimum marchionem Scipionem Maffeiuni, de ratione
indicis Sorbonici, seu bibliothecæ alphabeticæ, quam adornant, &c. 1734.